23 February 2007

In The Paper Today.

An article about the Episcopal/Anglican crisis in the Nashville Tennessean today, and - as usual - the issues driving the controversy are seriously mischaracterized:

Some of Tennessee's 15,000 Episcopalians, a group believed to be largely conservative theologically, welcomed the decision as a firm rebuke to a church they see as drifting away from core biblical values.

"I'm encouraged by how seriously the (Anglican leaders) took this situation and are dealing with it in a forthright and honest manner to try to cajole the Episcopal Church into being forthright and honest as well," said the Rev. Patrick Allen. His St. Joseph of Arimathea Episcopal Church in Hendersonville is in the midst of a 40-day period of prayer and reflection to decide whether it will leave the Episcopal Church over its acceptance of gays.

And now, those Episcopalians in the 2.3-million member U.S. denomination who back gay acceptance — faced with a deadline to reverse their position — are finding themselves struggling with the same question as Allen's congregation: Has the cost of membership become too high?

Far more important than issues surrounding sexual ethics (not that they are not important in and of themselves) in this crisis are the nature of authority and what I might call "ecclesial epistemology*," the "one another" form of life in the Church, and the nature of the Gospel itself.
Gays, lesbians, dog catchers, priests, lawyers, and Himalayan Sherpas find "full acceptance" in the Church on the same basis - repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. All are sinners, and all, in Christ, are called to be saints. "Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God" (Rom 15.7).
Later in the article comes this bit of tendentiousness:

The global Anglican Communion, represented in the United States by the Episcopal Church, has spent years debating how its 77 million members should interpret Scripture on salvation, truth and sexuality.

But for theological conservatives, the time for talk ended in 2003 when the U.S. denomination consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

No one has called for an end to the conversation; no one has taken the subject of appropriate pastoral care of gays and lesbians off the table; no one has said more and deeper consideration of human sexuality is not warranted or, indeed, desperately needed - in fact, just the opposite. What has been said (see the Windsor Report) is that it is inappropriate to act against the received, conciliarly-arrived at teaching of the Church and thereby give offense to one's brothers and sisters in the Communion, and thus enacting schism. That is what the Episcopal Church has done, and that is what we protest against.
*See for instance Bishop Steven Charleston's reaction to the Tanzania communique: "We will not deny a truth that we are certain is from God." Certain? How do we know such things? What is the community of inquiry and discernment? See also Bishop John Chane's immoderate response below.
TitusOneNine is now gathering responses to Tanzania in one convenient category.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Splendid, Spud. Thank you.

The secular press over-simplifies and misses the point.


25 February, 2007 07:14  

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